VTK – Visualization Toolkit

I like to fool around with Blender, the 3D modeling and animation software. For the most part, in Blender you have to create your own content by sculpting and painting things from scratch. But what if you have a bunch of scientific data that you want to visualize? Evidently you can use VTK and other computer programs that are built upon it. I haven’t used VTK myself but it seems to be widely used in the scientific community.

The Visualization Toolkit (VTK) is an open source graphics toolkit. It is a platform independent graphics engine with parallel rendering support. VTK has an active development community that includes laboratories, institutions and universities from around the world. VTK has several large collaborations between Kitware and national organizations such as Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos, and Livermore National Labs, who are using VTK as the foundation for their large data visualization research efforts. – Wikipedia.org

Blender People

Roland Hess Blender People

Roland Hess is an artist, author, coder and Blender enthusiast. He is also the creator of Blender People, a crowd simulation add-on for Blender. It is still under development and requires that you have MySQL installed on your computer. I haven’t attempted to get it working on my machine yet.

Massive: Artificial Intelligence for Animation

A more expensive solution to the crowd simulation problem (and more fully implemented) is Massive [Wikipedia article]. From the Massive website:

Massive is the premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. Using Massive, an animator or TD designs characters with a set of reactions to what is going on around them.

The reactions of the characters determine what they do and how they do it. Their reactions can even simulate emotive qualities such as bravery, weariness, or joy. The agent reactions can control key-framed or motion captured animation clips called actions.

Characters that perform on their own in this way are referred to as agents. Massive is a system for designing and running such agents. When scaled up into the hundreds – or hundreds of thousands – the interaction within the crowd that emerges from these individuals is highly realistic.

By building variation into an agent, the Massive artist can populate a scene with individuals who are unique in everything from physical appearance to how they respond.

Massive costs between $6,000 and $18,000 USD. Whew.